Color Context

How color behaves in relation to other colors and shapes is a complex area of color theory. Compare the contrast effects of different color backgrounds for the same red square.


Red appears more brilliant against a black background and somewhat duller against the white background. In contrast with orange, the red appears lifeless; in contrast with blue-green, it exhibits brilliance. Notice that the red square appears larger on black than on other background colors.

Different readings of the same color
Here you can see that the small purple rectangle on the left appears to have a red-purple tinge when compared to the small purple rectangle on the right. They are both the same color as seen in the illustration below.

This demonstrates how three colors can be perceived as four colors.Observing the effects colors have on each other is the starting point for understanding the relativity of color. The relationship of values, saturations and the warmth or coolness of respective hues can cause noticeable differences in our perception of color.